Wednesday, April 22, 2015

blossom time: spring in the city

It's an unusually sunny spring in London and people are flocking to the...beaches? Not exactly; Londoners prefer to sun themselves by the calm waters of the Thames and its tributary canals instead of going east to the still-freezing waters of the English Channel.

Flowering trees by Limehouse Docks

More reliable than the sunshine, April in London is marked by flowers - cherries, plums and other flowering trees create a delicate canopy to offset the bolder colours of garden flowers like irises and daffodils.

These flowers and more exotic plants line many a canal walk. Londoners, like most British, like a good long walk - and the safest and quietest places left in the teeming city are often the tamed rivers and canal systems formerly used for industry.

Some Londoners go to the watersides for more than walking - like this plein-air painter we met, who cheerfully let us snap him at work although he asked to remain anonymous.

Other artists are pretty active along the waterways too. The relative quiet tends to encourage street artists to fully express themselves with strange koans and surreal mini-installations.

Even the public decoration seems a little organically weird.

Boats make for interesting alternative housing in the city. These floating flats boast all the comforts of a landlocked home - satellite TV, internet, pet accommodation, and even gardens.

Humans aren't the only creatures who live along the canals, or even the most common. London's wetlands are thick with ducks, swans, moorhens and other waterfowl.

Swans by the Three Mills in Bow

City ducks will live in heavily populated areas, and don't hesitate to take over manmade spaces like parks and public fountains.

In this way, even the birds display traits of London residents - taking advantage of the beautiful spring weather any way they can. Sunshine is a finite resource here, and Londoners will come up with some creative ways to get maximum enjoyment out of it.

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